‘Gas leak’ at Gordon Square discovered to be a smelly chemical the Chemistry department was throwing away

UCL states that ‘non-toxic chemicals’ were responsible for the reported smell of ‘gas’


A reported 'gas leak' occurred near Gordon Square at around 11am this morning, prompting evacuations to be carried out in nearby buildings.

Emergency services were called and students were told to keep away from the building in case of an explosion.

After investigating the leak, emergency services discovered that there was no gas leak.

The strong smell had been caused by the UCL chemistry department disposing of non-toxic chemical which smells like natural gas.

Irene Adam, a third year economics student, who was at Gordon Square when the 'gas leak' occurred told the London Tab that she "could smell something bad, but couldn't understand what it was. Soon the alarm went off, so all of us got outside."

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She stated that they were instructed to move to the park, and that the road from Gordon Square leading to Torrington Square was closed. People, including children in nurseries, had been evacuated from nearby buildings and the police had arrived.

Irene said: "I asked a policeman, and he told me that there had been a gas leak."

One of the buildings affected was Bedford Way. All psychology experiments scheduled for the day were cancelled.

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Email from Clara cancelling experiments

Clara Meyer-horn, a third-year Psychology student who's experiment had been disrupted due to the alarms, said:

"Everyone was quite annoyed. No one was (getting) any information as to when we could go back inside so there was a lot of confusion. I ended up cancelling all the lab sessions I had scheduled that day, which was really inconvenient."

Clara was also one of the students who had been evacuated from Bedford Way.

She said: "There was a massive smell of gas throughout (Bedford Way building)… The whole building was evacuated and told to assemble far away (…), around the corner, in case the glass windows shatter…. Everyone was talking about the smell of gas and it was incredibly pungent even on the street."

Bedford Way was closed after the alarms sounded, but at around 11:45 it re-opened again.

Zsófia Keresztes, a first-year Psychology student who was present at the re-opening, said that "the near vicinity of the building (was cleared out), so you couldn't even come close to the entrance (before the re-opening)."

Kiwa Kumata, a pre-foundation student at UCL, said that the leak "definitely" did not come from Bedford Way, and that "workers said it was safe now."

When questions were asked at Bedford Way reception, the London Tab was told by the receptionist that "it was not a gas leak."

Later, UCL released an official statement to its students, clarifying that all the PAL buildings were safe and will remain open.

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Email of UCL statement released to students

The statement said: "We are aware of reports of a strong smell of gas in the Bloomsbury area this morning which led to the evacuation of UCL buildings.

"Following investigation by the emergency services, we can confirm that this was not due to a gas leak. It was caused by disposal of non-toxic, sulphur-based chemicals from UCL Chemistry which have a smell very similar to natural gas.

"We have been reassured by the emergency services that the area is safe and we apologise for the inconvenience caused."

Lessons will be continuing in these buildings as scheduled.